As the negotiating deadline looms, it remains unclear whether Iran and the P5+1 will conclude an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.
Iran has threatened to pull out of nuclear negotiations with the Six World Powers, while American Secretary of State John Kerry has indicated that the US would not agree to extend the process further than the deadline of March 31. At the same time, the US’s Middle Eastern allies, especially Israel and Saudi Arabia, are skeptical as to whether a final agreement could prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
The lead Iranian negotiator, Abbas Araqchi, said that his country will leave the talks if “other parties impose their wills,” according to a report on the Iranian PressTV. His comment came days after Kerry said that President Barack Obama would be “fully prepared” to end the negotiations if the Iranians do not agree to a deal that would prevent them from creating a nuclear weapon.
Araqchi and Kerry met in Geneva on Sunday, but no breakthrough seems to have resulted. Araqchi said there had been “good discussions, but no agreements.” Kerry warned ahead of the meeting that Obama had “no inclination whatsoever to extend these talks beyond the period that has been set out.” The meeting included, for the first time, US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Ali Akbar Salehi, director of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization.
The US’s regional allies, who are not represented in the P5+1, have openly expressed their doubts that Iran would be willing to accept an agreement that prevents it from producing a nuclear weapon. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was “astonishing” that negotiations were proceeding despite an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report suggesting that Iran was hiding military elements of its nuclear program.
On Saturday, Mojtaba Zolnour, representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, said that Iran would destroy Tel Aviv if Israel were to attack. However, he suggested than an attack would be unlikely, saying, “If the Zionists were certain that they could win a war against us, they’d have initiated one by now, but since they don’t have the strength to do so, they do nothing but threaten.” Iran also held a giant domino show on February 16 in which obstacles to the nuclear program, labeled “Geneva,” “Paris,” and “Stuxet Virus,” as well as an Israeli flag, were knocked down.
Arab states are similarly worried about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “At this stage, we prefer a collapse of the diplomatic process to a bad deal,” an Arab official told the Wall Street Journal last week.
By: Atara Beck, World Israel News